Robertson quits as SNP depute leader

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Former SNP MP Angus Robertson has quit as the party’s depute leader.

Eight months after losing his seat in the 2018 snap general election, Mr Robertson said he was stepping down with immediate effect in order to pursue “new career opportunities”.

Mr Robertson was one of the SNP’s most high-profile losses in the June election, when he was ousted from the Moray seat he had held since 2001.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed her “immense gratitude” for the job he had had done.

He was already the SNP’s Westminster leader when he was elected depute leader of the party in October 2016, succeeding Stewart Hosie, who quit the role following claims about his personal life.

Since losing his seat in the general election, Mr Robertson said he had been “focused on supporting campaign best practice for local SNP branches, constituency associations, elected members and the party nationally”.

“But in a letter to Ms Sturgeon he said: “I believe I am no longer able to fully discharge my mandate, which was to partner you as Westminster SNP Leader and as a parliamentarian representing a rural constituency.

“While it would be my greatest privilege to continue as Depute Leader, I know you understand that I have to focus now on pursuing new career opportunities.

“It is for that reason that I believe it is for others to step forward to seek the support of SNP members for the honour to serve as Depute Leader of Scotland’s largest political party.”

He added he was “tremendously honoured” to have held the role, and would now work to support public policy development in Scotland as an advisory board member of the Scottish Policy Foundation.

Ms Sturgeon told the former MP he had “always been a source of wise counsel” to her, noting that when he was first elected to Westminster the SNP had just five MPs.

The party went on to win 56 of the 59 seats up for grabs in Scotland in the 2015 general election, although it lost 21 of those constituencies some two years later.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Our political and electoral success over the last decade has been nothing short of extraordinary – and the party owes you an enormous debt of gratitude for the personal role you have played in bringing about that success.

“That includes your part in the 2014 referendum which brought the country closer to independence than ever before.”

The SNP leader added: “We remain the preeminent electoral force in Scotland, and the latest opinion polling shows us 17 points ahead of our nearest rivals almost 11 years into office, which is a remarkable vote of confidence from the people we serve. You can be very proud of the part you have played in this success.

“I know that you are keen to pursue other career opportunities at the moment, and I wish you well in those endeavours, but I hope that we may see you return to front-line politics in future.”

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